God’s providence and our little contribution
By Fr. Roy Cimagala
“He said to them, ‘There is no need for them to go away; give them some food yourselves.’ But they said to him, ‘Five loaves and two fish are all we have here.’ Then he said, ‘Bring them here to me,’ and he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass.” (Mt 14,16-19)
And so the story goes that led to the great astonishment of Christ’s disciples when at the end, in spite of what little the disciples contributed in the feeding of the people, there was a great amount of excess of the bread—12 baskets full—that was given to the crowd that followed Christ.
This gospel episode simply shows us that God always provides for our needs, no matter how helpless we may be in certain situations in our life. We should just trust in God’s almighty providence even as we do our part in resolving whatever problems and predicaments we can find ourselves in.
In this regard, Christ himself reassures us with these words: “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Mt 6,26)
And he continues: “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not [c]arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?” (Mt 6,28-30)
Yes, with a little help from us, the full wonder of God’s grace and providence would be revealed to us. This was articulated by Christ himself during the multiplication of the bread.
It is very moving to realize that what God is asking of us is actually very little in comparison to what he will be giving and doing for us. Another gospel episode that highlights this point is that of the miraculous catch of fish. (cfr. Lk 5,1-11)
Christ asked Peter to go to the deep and lower the nets for a catch. Peter at first was hesitant because he was fishing the previous night and caught nothing. But to Peter’s credit, he just obeyed Christ. And lo and behold, Peter caught such a large quantity of fish that he had to ask help to bring the enormous catch of fish to the shore.
It is indeed very reassuring that this is actually what happens in our relationship with God. All that we need to do are just the little duties we have, and God’s grace will come to us in abundance.
We simply have to do things in good faith, in obedience to God’s will, though sometimes God’s will would require extraordinary effort and sacrifice. But then again, whatever investment we have to give, even if in our own estimation it is already quite sizable, is nothing compared to what God will give us in return.
Corresponding to God’s will in our own small way is the highest yielding investment we can make. Let us remember that God can never be outdone in generosity. Christ himself said: “Whoever has (referring to one’s faith and trust in God) will be given more, and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” (Mt 13,12)